CSP data: Fewer cars, more speeding tickets and crashes on Colorado roads during pandemic

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LAKEWOOD, Colo. (KDVR) — There may have been fewer cars on the roads over the past two months, but the number of speeding tickets has increased in Colorado.

Records obtained by the FOX31 Problem Solvers show the Colorado State Patrol (CSP) wrote 4,015 tickets in February — before the first COVID-19 cases were confirmed in Colorado.

Then in March, the number of tickets rose to 4,585. In April, the number of tickets issued was 4,383 and just through May 18, it’s already up to 4,551 tickets.

“Once they made the public health order and started having people stay home, that’s when we started seeing these speeds really start to increase,” said Master Trooper Gary Cutler.

It wasn’t just that people were speeding; they were speeding by a lot.

In March and April, more than 2,800 tickets were issued for drivers going more than 20 mph over the speed limit.

Local police departments have been tweeting about the phenomenon. On April 21, Lakewood police tweeted a photo of someone cited for going 149 mph in a 65 mph zone.

On April 1, Westminster police tweeted, “Not an April Fools joke. We wish it was. Officers cited drivers at 103, 103, 97 and 97.”

“If you have wider roads, people feel a little more comfortable going faster,” said Cutler, who added higher speeds tend to result in more crashes.

In the first four months of 2019, CSP recorded 6,550 crashes.

But the figure spiked to 9,602 crashes in the first four months of 2020.

Injury crashes jumped from 808 to 998 over the same four-month period.

Fatalities stayed nearly even, with 73 in the first four months of 2019 and 71 over the first four months of 2020.

“We’re done giving warnings on this kind of stuff. People know what the speed limits are – these reckless amounts of speed that we are seeing can’t continue — especially as people get back on the roadway — or we’re going to see more injuries and more deaths,” Cutler said.

Even if speeding doesn’t lead to a crash, it can cost drivers more than just a fine. If you’re going fast enough over the speed limit, Cutler told FOX31 that troopers can cite you for reckless driving and have your license revoked.

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